Twin Councils
 
The Executive Council and the Legislative Council of Van Diemen's Land
 
As background, it should be noted that the British legislation providing for the separation of the two colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land was passed in 1823. Although this act immediately applied in NSW  it was deemed by Earl Bathurst, in a letter to NSW Governor Brisbane [28/8/1823], as not 'expedient' to apply to VDL becaue its status as a penal colony. Cutting a long story short, after several Petitions to the local Lieutenant-Governor, the Colonial authorities and to the British Parliament, this view changed.Consequently, in another letter, dated 2 June 1825, Bathurst held that the time was now expedient.

Therefore, in July Earl Bathurst wrote to Lieutenant-Govenor George Arthur enclosing an Order-in-Council dated 14 June 1825 'constituting and erecting' VDL a separate colony. This order provided for the first ever use of an Executive Council in any English Colony and, therefore, VDL's Executive Council was Australia's first to be created. NSW Governor Ralph Darling left Hobart for Sydney in December 1825 and had to repeat the formal process of establishment there. The membership of the Executive and Legsialtive Councils were practically identical, hence the term 'twin councils'.

 
24 November 1825 Darling arrives in VDL with two commissions: One as Governor of NSW [dated 16 July 1825] the other as Gov. of VDL.
1 December 1825 Gazette Notice of Darling's appointment as Governor of VDL, and announcement of official ceremony for 3rd December
3 December 1825

Gazette Notice of formal taking of oaths required by the British Government plus the reading of the  June 1825 O-In-C. Ceremony held at 1'o clock Saturday, which was to be a public 'holyday', and Royal Salute was to be fired from Mulgrave Battery.

Executive Council: meeting convened at 1'o clock at Government House [then in Macquarie St] with Ralph Darling as "His Excellency the Governor', George Arthur as "His Honor the Lt. Governor", and two others A. W. H. Humphrey and Jocelyn Thomas: included Formal reading of oaths and commissions.

5 December 1825

Darling writes to Earl Bathurst saying he had undertaken the legal formalities. He then left VDL never to return. This was in fact necessary because his commission as Governor of VDL continued to apply and would negate Arthur's whenever Darling was on the island.

10 December 1825

Coincidentially, on this day, fresh warrants were issued in London. In Hobart the Executive Council met at noon for one hour, with a quorum of the Lieutenant-Governor and two members. Arthur's commissions were read setting out his powers and responsibilities. The only business was to change the style and title of Arthur from 'His Honor' to 'His Excellency'.

12 December 1825

Executive Council convene at noon for one hour with same members attending.Only real business a draft proclamation of Arthur's commission as Lt. Governor, which according to Darling' s commission could only be taken in the absence of Darling.

17 December 1825

Gazette Notice of these proclamations.

29 December 1825

First real business meeting of the Executive Council of VDL.

12 April 1826

Formal meeting of the Legislative Council.
20 April 1826 Appointment of Capt. Montagu as Clerk of the Councils [ie EC and LC]

21 April 1826

MLC Edward Curr causes delays because as a Roman Catholic, he refused to take the necessary oath, Arthur decided to waive this requirement, which was subsquently approved by his superiors in London.

21 June 1826

First proper session of the Legislative Council.
   

This form of Legislative Council has also been given the name 'Crown Council' because it was made up of members nominated by the Crown, even those who represented the agricultural or commercial interests. [Elected members first took office in 1851.]

   

Addtional Note:
Arthur's view:

Most historians project Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur as a man who wishes to rule alone. For example he found Chief Justice Pedder too show to reach decisions, and so wished to ignore him!

HRA Series III Volume VII records that Arthur wrote to Colonial Secretary Huskisson in November 1828 saying that; "The Executive Council is . not the most comfortable assembly, and as I feel it an intolerable burden to meet, I have convened them as seldom as a sense of duty would allow:' Yet, on balance, Arthur then goes on the say that the "Council is a most useful and most desirable aid and protection to the officer administering the Government."